Monash University sociologist Associate Professor Anita Harris, who is studying how young people deal with cultural diversity and manage conflict and change, said those in culturally diverse communities were shrugging off efforts to categorise them.
Her research is part of a four-year international project that includes Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, as well as Johannesburg in South Africa, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Prato in Italy. All are rapidly changing areas of high cultural diversity.
“Typically young people in those environments are seen as a problem. There is a lot of worry about ethnic youth gangs, young people fighting, or failing to understand each other’s backgrounds or needs,” Associate Professor Harris said.
Many young people’s sense of identity and their affiliations were in flux, she said: a mash-up of social and political networks that stretch from the local to the global, and incorporate ethnicity, religion, gender and individual interests.
The Australian component of her research has drawn on interviews with more than 100 people aged 15 to 25, from a wide range of backgrounds including Indigenous and Anglo Australians and young people with Afghan, African, Asian, European, Maori, Middle Eastern and Pacific Islander heritage.
“For this generation it is normal to be surrounded by diversity and to interact with people of different backgrounds in a way that it is not for older people. That doesn’t mean that young people in these diverse communities always get along well, or that they embrace diversity, but they accept it as normal,” Associate Professor Harris said.
She found that when there was conflict it was most commonly the result of sexual jealousy, male posturing, or access to limited shared resources. Combatants might “play the race card” in the heat of conflict, but race was rarely the cause of the conflict.
“Young people weren’t saying that they didn’t fight, but talked about conflict that had been resolved, things that were in the past, but which local media or politicians would not let go of,” she says. “And the people they fought with were also, at other times, friends. The popular notion that there are big ethnic groupings clashing with each other just didn’t bear out.”
Associate Professor Harris said that when it came to the question of national identity, or “being Australian”, many young people resisted a single allegiance. Hybrid cultural identities allowed them to feel part of many different groups simultaneously, a feeling enhanced by their ability to join the flow of global youth culture, via the internet.
Read the full story of Associate Professor Anita Harris’s research in ‘Global youth step over the ethnic fence’.
Find out more:
Godzilla, Wine and Video Games: Getting to know Monash researcher Jason Christopher Jones
Want to know how the Japanese language, wine, Godzilla and video games all tie in to being a researcher at Monash? Lecturer in Japanese studies, Jason Jones, tells us about his passion for ‘all things Japanese’, and about his research around the themes of cultural exchange and adaptation.
Telling the larger story about terrorism: a conversation with PhD candidate Noor Huda Ismail
PhD candidate Noor Huda Ismail is an author, filmmaker, activist, and self-described “repentant journalist”, and has a desire to tell a larger story about terrorism, foreign fighters and why people join violent organisations.
Mentoring matters: Global mentors for Monash University students
The value of a mentor both personally and professionally – to provide guidance, support and advice – is almost universal.
In the aid and development sector…
Welcome to Nowhere: Monash at the Fringe Festival
The Melbourne Fringe festival is providing plenty of opportunities for Monash to showcase its theatre outputs this year.
Indian dignitaries visit the Faculty of Arts
On 26 August, the Faculty of Arts had the honour of welcoming a His Excellency, Navdeep Suri, the High Commissioner of India in Australia…
More Monash student travel in New Colombo plan
Monash Arts has once again been very successful in securing funding for our students under the … Continue reading More Monash student travel in New Colombo plan
Monash panel discusses Antigone at the Malthouse Theatre
As part of Monash’s becoming a major sponsor of The Malthouse Theatre this year, Monash … Continue reading Monash panel discusses Antigone at the Malthouse Theatre
MWF brings launch of On Happiness to Melbourne
Happiness appears to be a simple emotion, individual and pleasurable, yet the problems associated with … Continue reading MWF brings launch of On Happiness to Melbourne
World first at Monash: Chair in Cultural Linguistics appointed to Farzad Sharifian
Professor Farzad Sharifian has recently been appointed as the Chair in Cultural Linguistics at Monash, … Continue reading World first at Monash: Chair in Cultural Linguistics appointed to Farzad Sharifian
Did you miss Open Day 2015?
You can still have your questions answered. Check out our FAQs and also search our … Continue reading Did you miss Open Day 2015?
Monash Arts students and alumni to perform at WinterFest
A band of Monash University students and alumni will return from an interstate tour to … Continue reading Monash Arts students and alumni to perform at WinterFest
‘Monash Country Lines’ Yanyuwa animations to be broadcast on NITV
Those interested in seeing the work of the Monash Country Lines project will soon have the … Continue reading ‘Monash Country Lines’ Yanyuwa animations to be broadcast on NITV